New parking rules to take effect in fall

by Katie Knoll

Whitworth’s parking task force, comprised of 11 staff members and students, developed changes to campus parking over the course of several months. Facilities services director Chris Eichorst chairs the task force.

There will not be change to the parking lots, Eichorst said, but rather redesignation of parking areas. On-campus students will have assigned lots near their dorms, and will not be permitted to park elsewhere.

“The benefit is that only resident students can park in those spots,” Eichorst said. “The downside is that that’s the only place they can park.”

The plan is to issue several different types of parking permits, which will indicate where each driver is allowed to park. There will be five categories: Faculty and staff, East campus resident students, West campus resident students, off-campus students and evening students.

Some of the parking areas will overlap, however. For example, many faculty and staff parking areas will be shared by off-campus students. The strictest parking will be for resident students,  Eichorst said. That is to keep resident students from parking overnight or long-term in areas that would be better suited for short-term parking, and to ensure all resident students can easily find a place to park near where they live, Eichorst said.

Brian Benzel, vice president of finance and administration, is also on the parking task force. He coordinates the group’s work with other departments, including security and University Council.

Benzel said the goal of the task force’s redesignations is to reduce the amount of traffic going through campus. He said the philosophy of being a walking-friendly campus has been in place for several years.

“The campus has been evolving over many, many years,” Benzel said. “We’ve tried to create a pedestrian mall; we’re constantly moving parking to the perimeter of campus. It’s nearby, but you have to walk.”

Some may find the parking changes inconvenient compared to the current system , Benzel said.

“People want to park at the front door of the building they want to go in,” Benzel said. “If they can’t, they think we have a parking problem. We have more of a walking problem.”

Senior Mathew Eardley is a student representative for the task force. He conducted an assessment of on campus student parking needs based on occupancies of residence halls, number of parking permits assigned to students in each hall and the available parking spots in each lot on campus.  With that information, he helped allocate parking areas for resident students.

“What we realized was that there are plenty of parking spots,” Eardley said. “There are more than enough for average daily campus use. We worked with how to best use them.”

Depending on the success of the plan, further changes could be made as necessary, Eardley said.

“This can also be the basis for further research. We [will be able to] observe and measure a little more efficiently and successfully,” Eardley said.

Some parking changes have already been made, Eichorst said, including additional visitor parking, as well as several 15-minute spots recently added near the Hixson Union Building. Extra racks for bike parking were also added in several areas around campus this year.

As part of the new plan, more parking spaces will be designated for visitors in more accessible areas.

Next year’s parking plan has been approved by the President’s Cabinet and University Council. In the coming weeks, Eardley and Eichorst will present the plan to ASWU for feedback.

“I hope this is well received. We think it’s a common sense approach,” Eichorst said. “I hope people don’t think they’re being penalized or anything like that. We’re trying to look at it from a community standpoint.”

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